I’ll admit that on Friday mornings when I hear that “thump” on the front porch, I launch out of bed like it’s Christmas.
The farm box is here!
I quickly empty the contents of our box onto the dining room table, then examine each item one-by-one, conjuring visions of the coming week’s meals.
Baby bok choy…sweet peppers…heirloom tomatoes…fingerling potatoes…
A consequence of relocating to one of the more expensive metro areas in the United States is that gardening space is a luxury not easily afforded. We do have a patio where I grow greens in large planters and a Meyer lemon tree promises ingredients for lemonade and lemon curd sometime this winter. And with the landscaper’s blessing I was able to squeeze in an herb garden in front of the house. Yet, despite the infinitely long California growing season, I realized that my annual veggie garden would be sacrificed unless I could get my hands on a much-coveted community garden plot. I toyed with the idea for a while, but after visiting several of the East Bay farmers markets, I came to realize that I don’t need to grow my own vegetables anymore. There are so many people here eager to do it for me!
It may surprise you west-coasters to learn that I knew about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) before moving to California. (Yes, we have organic farms in Kansas.) But for some reason I was never compelled to sign up until I moved here. We had been frequenting the East Bay farmers markets each weekend, visiting either the Grand Lake Farmers Market on Saturday or Temescal Market on Sunday, when our friends Jillian and Steph mentioned the CSA they joined– Farm Fresh to You (FFTY) based in Capay, CA. It didn’t take much convincing to get me and the man signed on to the idea. We think it’s a sweet deal. We pay $25 a week for our box, and so far, it’s been the right amount for two people who cook nearly every night. What’s also nice is they publish the box contents on their website a week ahead of time, so I can make substitutions for items we know we won’t eat.
For me, the most appealing aspect of a CSA was the culinary creativity I hoped it would inspire. I decided not to request substitutions unless it is something we both absolutely dislike. You will find some people complain that with CSAs you get the same thing every week. This is our fourth box, and it’s true, there is some repetition. I’ll admit that when I saw chard was coming for the third week in a row, I had to suppress a groan. Don’t get me wrong–I love chard! As soon as I publish this blog post, I will no doubt start researching new recipes. As a gardener, I know that’s just how it goes. You find a way to sneak zucchini into every recipe and put up twenty varieties of pickles.
I love that I am connected to a local farm through this CSA program. Each week, the box comes with a sweet letter from some mysterious farmer named Thaddeus. This week is a report from the chard field (appropriate, I know!) with a loving description of the soil and plants, the workers as they harvest the thick leaves.
Check out Local Harvest if you’re looking for a CSA in your area. For those of you in the Bay Area, the ladies at Farm and a Frying Pan have a nice list of CSAs to help you decide: Bay Area Produce CSA Round-Up.
Thank you all for joining me on my new blogging adventure. I’m trying not to take it too seriously, hoping that will keep me posting every week. Until next time, feel free to send me your awesome chard recipes! (I mean it!)
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